The Lions produced a polished Currie Cup performance on Friday to obliterate the struggling Falcons, courtesy of an 83-14 thumping at Bosman Stadium in Brakpan.
Coach Eugene Eloff’s Lions ran in 13 tries to two, sending a clear message of intent to the log leaders as they step up their bid for a semifinal berth in this year’s Currie Cup.
Rugby 365 reports that it’s hard not to admire the Falcons and wish that they would do better. There is so much that they do that is brave and skilled. Here they played their big and wealthy older brothers to the west and did so with zest. They were not overawed in their avowed intent to run with the ball whatever huge men and vast acres lay between them and the goal-line. But in the end they were done, well and truly done. The Lions were much too good.
One of the Falcons’s surprising weaknesses was in a set piece. One would expect them to get line-outs right. They have tall men and that should be enough to win the ball but they were woefully off target with their throwing. They had an incredible six five-metre line-outs. They managed to get the ball from only one of them and that went sterile. They had a free kick from another, opted for the scrum and then lost the ball. They threw one in skew and simply lost the other three. The Lions did not even have to compete all that sincerely to win the ball.
Even when the Lions were down to 14 men they were far too good. They were reduced to 14 men when Jaco van Schalkwyk was guilty of a gross spear tackle. It was late and he got the feet well up into the air. This is the second week in a row that the Lions have lost a man to a dangerous tackle. Last week Jano Vermaak was yellow-carded and then cited and suspended. This week it’s another back and his suspension could well be longer than a week.
When they were still fresh and unbattered, the Falcons actually drew first blood. Len Olivier kicked high for the corner. The ball bounced high and the hard Brakpan ground and eluded Trompie Nontshinga and Jaco van Schalkwyk but not Dewald Pretorius who grabbed and scored in the corner. Poerie van Rooyen converted. 7-0 after 7 minutes.
Then the Lions took over. From a scrum, Doppies la Grange dashed forward and set his side bashing at the line till they went wide and Jaco Pretorius ran round to score in the right corner. 7-5.
The Lions attacked and Van Schalkwyk cut back sharply to score. Rose converted, 12-7 after 12 minutes.
The Lions lost scrumhalf Chris Jonck when Sean Plaatjies was being dumped and a stray boot – purely accidentally – struck Jonck’s head. La Grange then moved into scrumhalf with Walter Venter coming in at centre.
The Lions were on defence before scoring their next try. They broke out with quick passing and a long run by Cobus Grobbelaar until the ball went to Nontshinga on the left wing. He was cut down juts short of the line and the Lions bashed until Anton van Zyl finished it off with the try. 19-7 after 15 minutes.
Nontshinga got the next try as Earl Rose and then Jaco Pretorius contrived to give the lanky speedster an overlap and off he sped to score under the posts. 26-7 after 16 minutes.
The right wing got the next one as the Lions tapped a penalty on the left and Killian beat three defenders on the right to score the bonus-point try. 33-7 after 29 minutes.
It was not a night for kicking penalties at goal. The Falcons who had the majority of penalties did not do so once. The Lions did so once and Rose missed. Lesson learnt, they did not do it again.
The Falcons tapped and ran and there was prop Gavin Whittingham out on the left wing and round he went for a try which Van Rooyen converted, 33-14.
Just before half-time the Lions got another when they won a turnover and Venter popped a pass to La Grange who scored.
At half-time the Lions led 38-14.
The Falcons broke out from near their own line to force a line-out near the Lions’ line and then a scrum – and then they lost the ball.
Rose broke, and noble Ernst Joubert, who had a magnificent game and looked the best ball-handler on the field, carried it on and Killian scored. 45-14 after 54 minutes.
La Grange grubbered, Killian footed on and Van Schalkwyk dotted down neatly. 52-14 after 56 minutes.
The Lions attacked with quick passing and La Grange sniped through a gap to score at the posts. 59-14 after 62 minutes.
That was the score when Van Schalkwyk was shown a red card.
The Lions turned a penalty into a line-out and battered away till replacement hooker Ethienne Reynecke got the try. Louis Strydom was now on for Rose and he converted. 66-14 after 67 minutes.
Reynecke got the next try after a good run by Joubert. The Lions moved the ball smartly to the left and there was the blond hooker out on the wing to score the try. 73-14 with 10 minutes to play.
There had been a horde of replacements invading the ground but still props became in short supply and three uncontested scrums followed.
Grobbelaar won a turnover, as is his skill, and the Lions went left to Rayno Benjamin who sprinted down the touchline to score. 78-14. There was time for Benjamin to get another try. From a scrum on the far right Strydom kicked a perfect diagonal to the far left where Benjamin won the aerial battle for the ball and scored. That ended the match.
There was a lot for the 24 000 people in Bosman Stadium to cheer about. And they need not be ashamed of their young, brave team.
For the Falcons:
Tries: D Pretorius, Whittingham
Cons: Van Rooyen 2
For the Lions:
Tries: J Pretorius, Van Schalkwyk 2, Van Zyl, Nontshinga, Killian 2, La Grange 2, Reynecke 2, Benjamin 2
Cons: Rose 6, Strydom 3
Red card: Jaco van Schalkwyk (Lions, 63 – Dangerous tackle)
Falcons: 15 Johan Jackson, 14 Dewald Pretorius, 13 Ernie Kruger, 12 Hanno Coetzee (captain), 11 Johan Swartz, 10 Len Olivier, 9 Poerie van Rooyen, 8 Sean Plaatjies, 7 Johan de Bruin, 6 Warren Perkins, 5 Marius Coetzer, 3 Ruhan van Jaarsveld, 3 Nico Pretorius, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Gavin Whittingham.
Replacements: 16 Jody Jeneker, 17 Frik Venter, 18 Wouter Moore, 19 Reg Muller/Emile Verster, 20 Gerrie Odendaal, 21 Showan Smith, 22 Jeff Perkins.
Lions: 15 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Trompie Nontshinga, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Chris Jonck, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Franco van der Merwe, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (captain), 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Lawrence Sephaka, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Derick Minnie, 19 Justin Wheeler, 20 Walter Venter, 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Rayno Benjamin.